The Smurfs are little blue creatures that live in mushroom houses in a forest inhabited mainly by their own kind. The smurfs average daily routine is attempting to avoid Gargomel, an evil man who wants to kill our little blue friends.
Everybody has a series of some sort that started them on a path of what they come to expect from nearly everything else in the genre proceeding it, whether it be a "Batman", a "Star Wars", or more aptly in my case, "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers". It was released in '89 to be one of 4 original series on a new 2-hour block of cartoon TV known as the Disney Afternoon. Perfect timing for me, what being around 7 years old. Upon first seeing it I became enthralled. It seems that everyone also has a character whom they feel they can identify with in some degree. I remember being a somewhat scatterbrained kid...goofy, funny, if even also bucktoothed. And I want(ed) a shirt like Dale's pretty bad.
Over the years, I've found that, even having evolved into supposed adulthood, good cartoons are hard to come by and stay with. When I saw the series as a little kid, there was no way I could've pointed out all the little nagging errors in it, like sometimes slippery animation, thoroughly worn music and tired sound effects. Rather, they were counter-balanced with interest by the intriguing concept of a band of tree-residing rodents out to further the cause of justice, no matter how seemingly small the battle.
Just how could the police solve crimes like widespread cheese disappearances, mysterious weather patterns or potential citywide destruction...from a record player? Well, they can't. They don't have the necessary perspective. They aren't 2 and a half inches tall. Naw, these cases are best left for Chip, Dale, Gadget, Monterey Jack and his winged pal, Zipper. Of course, not every team is a perfect unit. Chip might over-analyze a case, leading to missing out on an opportunity to act. Gadget's latest gadget is liable to act in an un-anticipated way. Monty's next rush to action might get the gang in a bit of a pinch. And Dale...well, a "creative" solution is a creative solution, after all. Might just not work, though.
So then, why are the chronicles of diminutive crime-fighters so awesomely excellent? I find that, among many reasons, there don't seem to be many cartoons that can practice what they preach without doing just that. Teamwork, detective work, creativity and tolerance can be extolled without preaching, and to boot, while having fun! Cunning and eccentric baddies like the aptly named Fat Cat don't stand a chance against this well-oiled machine...no matter how well-thought out a devious star constellation rouse is.
It's really quite amazing how Disney's bargain-basement cartoon of the bunch came to be one of the most well-received of them. Of other Disney Afternoon favorites like "Duck Tales", "TaleSpin", and "Darkwing Duck", this is the least expensive to produce, and as aforementioned, my favorite. It just goes to show that a mix of the old-fashioned Disney magic and awesome character interactions make the show over "special effects". About 16 years after the fact, I find this show has not aged, despite my more discriminating tastes, and has remained my all-time favorite cartoon series. Whenever my inner child wells to the surface, I still pop in a long-ago-recorded VHS episode. And dare I say, I hold the series in such high regard that if the latest and greatest can't stack up to the Rescue Rangers, it's just not old-fashioned enough.
"Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" gets a well-earned 10 of 10 stars.
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